Houston’s Planning Commission on Thursday deferred a vote on a developer’s request regarding an upscale real estate project proposed on six acres just outside downtown in the East End.
Triten Real Estate Partners, a Houston-based company that is also a partner in the development of M-K-T Heights on North Shepherd, has asked the city for a variance to allow the project to be built closer to the street. By doing so, the developer argues, the project would better maintain the area’s historic character while improving the public realm.
Documents filed with the city reveal a two-phased development combining office, multifamily, restaurant and retail spaces in a series of buildings, including existing warehouse space built in the 1950s.
“We’re trying to embrace the neighborhood and retain that historic structure,” said Scott Arnoldy, founding partner of Triten.
Michael Hsu, the prominent Texas architect behind M-K-T, Heights Mercantile and a long list of retail and restaurant projects in Houston and Austin, is designing the development, to be called The Mill after a lumber mill that was once in the area, Arnoldy said.
The property, at 2219 Canal St. is bordered by Runnels, Canal, Navigation and the Missouri Pacific Railroad line. Triten acquired the property late last year.
The plan includes new construction as well as reusing at least a portion of the existing warehouse space. The buildings would face an interior courtyard, which would have patios and outdoor seating. Surface parking would be on Navigation and in a nearby parking lot.
The developer is seeking a variance from the city’s required 10-foot building setback along Canal Street. Strict imposition of the rule would limit the Triten’s ability to repurpose the existing warehouse structures and to develop Canal Street with a consistent building setback, “which will maintain the pedestrian friendly urban character established in the neighborhood,” according to the request. The project would include wide sidewalks and ground-floor retail with apartments on the above floors.
The proposal was first presented at the city’s July 9 Planning Commission meeting, but the board deferred taking action to give the developer more time to provide additional information about the project.
At that meeting, area resident Cynthia Mendez expressed concern about increased traffic.
“There has been a lot more traffic congestion due to all the other developments in the area,” she said. “There’s a train track right on Runnels … I’d’ like to know what their plans are to alleviate all the congestion that could be caused by the trains.”
Arnoldy said he was working the city to assure the project will not overwhelm existing traffic patterns. Rather it will have a “low-rise feel” that better blends into the area.
Originally posted on Houston Chronicle